Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) acknowledges that learning takes place in a variety of contexts from the classroom to a broader scope of settings which include the workplace, the community, the home, and following personal and recreational interests.





The two basic principles of RPL are

-What individuals know and can do is more important than where or how they learned those things.

-No one should have to spend time, energy, and resources learning over again what they already know and can do.


RPL recognizes life-long learning  in acknowledging the unrecognized skills and competencies a person gains during their life. Acknowledging this learning can allow a person to find work and move ahead in an occupation, and it can benefit employers and communities who get the benefit of this knowledge and skill.

In 2010 the Department of Labour and Advanced Education adopted the “Recognition of Prior Learning Policy Framework”. Since that time the department has provided leadership in RPL, building RPL services in NS, building capacity outside the provincial government, and developing quality assurance frameworks.


This chart outlines the three areas of assessment and recognition of prior learning.


(Click For a Larger View)


The RPL and Labour Mobility Unit is promoting RPL and working with projects in these areas: in adult education, in the workplace, and for regulatory bodies. The Division also supports and coordinates RPL training activities.


RPL in Adult Education

The Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) has a credit transfer system for awarding credit toward the Adult High School Diploma. Click on the NSSAL link for more  information on NSSAL, the adult high school diploma program, and other literacy programs or call the toll-free line at 1-877-go-NSSAL (1-877-466-7725).


RPL in the Workplace

Whether gained formally or informally, the prior learning experiences of an organization’s employees can be relevant and valuable.

As an employer, recognizing prior learning can reduce time you spend training and certifying  employees, help motivate them to take further training and gain credentials, and give you a better understanding of the capabilities and potential of your human resources.

The Division is building services to support employers who are developing performance criteria, and assessment processes. Contact the RPL Coordinator for more information.


RPL for Regulatory Bodies

Developing Competency Standards

Sound assessment is built on the foundation of well-developed learning outcomes in education, and well-developed competency standards for the workplace. To foster RPL for occupations and jobs, the Division not only recommends but also supports workplaces in using and developing these tools. Standards for assessing competency can be used for RPL assessment and can also be used to develop curriculum, evaluate performance, and recruit and keep employees. Contact the RPL Coordinator for more information.


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